The Fox & Little Tanuki Vol. 1 by Mi Tagawa {Manga Review}

The Fox And The Little Tanuki Vol. 1 by Mi Tagawa (Fox & Tanuki #1)

Publisher: Tokyo Pop

Release Date: March 17, 2020

Pages: 158

Summary: Long ago, the gods granted a few special animals great powers… but not all those animals used their magical abilities for good! Senzou the Fox Spirit in particular grew too brash and arrogant, abusing his strength until the gods imprisoned him for his bad behavior. Three hundred years later, he’s finally been released, but only on one condition– he can’t have his any of his abilities back until he successfully helps a tanuki cub named Manpachi become an assistant to the gods.

Unfortunately for Senzou, there’s no cheating when it comes to completing his task! The magic beads around his neck make sure he can’t wander too far from his charge or shirk his duties, and so… Senzou the once-great Fox Spirit must now figure out how to be an actually-great babysitter to a mischievous little tanuki or risk being stuck without his powers forever!

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Fox & The Little Tanuki is an entertaining manga debut filled with so much heart, following an evil fox spirit whose been awakened and given a second chance with one very important task, raising a tanuki cub to be a servant to the gods! From its fast pace, animated artwork, and compelling story steeped in Japanese mythology, this is a fantastic manga series worth checking out!

Within the space of this of this roughly 150-page manga, Tagawa delivers a clever narrative about redemption, identity, and family in a way all through the lens of a Japanese mythology and folklore.

Senzou is a black fox spirit whose been asleep for 300 years only to be awakened once more by the sun goddess and with wickedness still driving him, he plans on getting vengeance. However, he quickly learns that his current form as a regular fox has practically diminished all his powers and has been given a vital task: He must now take care of a little tanuki and raise it to be a servant of the gods.

To ensure he’s on track, a pearl necklace has been placed on him to inflict pain he caused in his past life whenever he neglects his duties (both emotionally or in a literal sense). Whether he’s too far from the tanuki, tries to avoid the goddess’s orders, or attempts to harm others, the pearls will bring pain.

With nature as a backdrop, the art presents lots of sprawling forests, plants, building a unique world where these creatures live. The series is set in a place between our world and the underworld too. Animals inhabit this world either as servants of the gods, free to roam where the choose, or even in the form of bakemono, those born with special powers.

While Senzou is adamant about caring for the tanuki, which he names Manpachi, he offers him the stark reality of loneliness, duty, and family with creatures like them. As it turns out Manpachi was originally from our world, but because of his abilities as a bakemono he could never create a real attachment to his family and was exiled. With his innocence, Senzou attempts to open his eyes at various moments in this volume, but it’s in Manpachi’s infectious joy that contradicts the possible accuracy of this advice … which also shows the reader, in some ways, they may be more alike than we first realize.

Once they are introduced to their new home, they learn that two wolves (Mikumo and Tachibana) are in charge of keeping an eye on them and giving them different tasks or problems to solve among the gods. The first involves a Zashiki-warishi, a spirit that’s in the form of a child protecting a house, who’s trying to reclaim his home from another god that took over.

Over the course of this first volume Senzou and Manpachi use their opposing natures to find a way to work together and teach each other more about the world. Senzou especially learns a bit more about what it means to care for someone other than himself, letting those sharp, jagged edges slowly diminish through what I hope will be the entirety of the series. That becomes abundantly clear when a mysterious badger known for causing trouble, confronts Senzou and even learns about Manpachi!

I’m loving the origins of the sort of found family that’s presented here! Not only is there Senzou and Manpachi, but there’s also the white fox spirit Koyuki, the bubbly one of the group who also gives them a place to stay. Despite the wolf Mikumo feeling uneasy and overly suspicious of Senzou’s motives, he and Tachibana act as his guide and I’m sure we’ll be seeing them all interact more throughout the various books. I loved the chaotic dynamic this squad has and I’m eager to read the next volume!

Steeped in Japanese folklore and myth, there’s lots of bakemono and spirits we’re introduced to and it’s interesting getting to see the hierarchy of spirits, animals and how they all interact within this world.

Senzou and Manpachi are the LITERAL definition of the grumpy x sunshine dynamic that is so much fun to read! Although there’s lots of mystery surrounding their pasts still, I can see lots of similarities and parallels, which makes their characters even more fascinating while seeing their companionship unfold slowly throughout the volume.

For this manga the artwork is very animated and reads like anime adaptation. It’s very immersive, fast-paced which makes for fun action scenes and presents a very expressive style when it comes to personifying the animal characters, especially in Koykui and Senzou. Also, the covers are done in such a beautiful watercolor style, which first drew me to this series.

There’s lots of messages and themes woven throughout such as family, attempting to learn from past mistakes, allowing the opportunity trust yourself while making room for redemption and second chances. Both Manpachi and Senzou are both getting used to their new roles and have much to learn about each other, but you can see the importance of these themes through their trials and triumphs!

While the pacing and story are fantastic, it can feel like there’s a lot of lore were introduced to a bit quickly because of how fast it is and at times it can feel overwhelming. However, there’s also moments where I just wanted to know more about this world and the hierarchy among the animals. But once you get reading, the story is an absolute delight start to finish!

The Fox & Tanuki Vol. 1 is fun manga series filled with mythology that features a grumpy fox spirit training a cheerful, curious tanuki and turning him into a servant for the gods! An absolute page-turner filled with adventure, humor, mystery, and meaningful messages. Great for those seeking the grumpy-sunshine pairing and looking for a story that’s equal parts fun and heartfelt, with a plot sure to leave you wanting to know more!

Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda & Valynne E. Maetani Review

Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. MaetaniSeven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani

Publisher: Harper Collins (Harper Teen / Quill Tree Books)

Release Date: January 28, 2020

Pages: 384

Available Through The Book Depository: Seven Deadly Shadows

Cover Design: Sam Webber (artist), Erin Fitzsimmons (designer)

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Kira Fujikawa has never had it easy. She’s bullied by the popular girls in school. Her family ignores her. And she’s also plagued with a secret: She can see yokai, the ghosts and demons that haunt the streets of Japan. But things accelerate from bad to worse when she learns that Shuten-doji, the demon king, will rise at the next blood moon to hunt down an ancient relic and bring the world to a catastrophic end.

Not exactly skilled at fighting anything, much less the dead, Kira enlists the aid of seven powerful death gods to help her slay Shuten-doji. They include Shiro, a kitsune with boy-band looks who is more flirtatious than helpful, and O-bei, a regal demon courtesan with covert reasons of her own for getting involved.

As the confrontation with Shuten-doji draws nearer by the day, the fate of Japan hangs in the balance. Can Kira save humankind? Or will the demon king succeed in bringing eternal darkness upon the world?

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Seven Deadly Shadows is a character-driven contemporary fantasy that follows Kira, whose on a quest to save her family’s shrine and possibly the world, by finding 7 death gods and reconstructing an ancient sword to fight a demon king! Featuring Shinto and Japanese culture, this unique book is filled with action, adventure, and a compelling story making it a must read!

Its a fact that amazing books can get swept under the radar and I think Seven Deadly Shadows is one of them. I mean, who wouldn’t want to read about a priestess in training joined by her half-kitsune best friend embarking on a journey to recruit death gods to defeat a demon lord and save the world?

Out of all her family members, Kira is the one who feels the most dedicated to look after the Shinto shrine alongside her grandfather and best friend Shiro. Her family also has the ability to see demon monsters or spirits called yokai.

Kira’s most at home whenever she’s at the shrine, learning about the glamours or tradition with her grandfather, and vows to carry on the legacy her other brother Ichigo and parents ignore (with only her little sister Ami showing the slightest bit of interest). However, one day the shrine is attacked and her beloved grandfather is murdered.

After learning the shrine is rumored to carry the pieces of a legendary sword bestowed by the sun goddess Amaterasu, she’s left with no other option but to prepare for a looming battle with a demon lord, set on bringing chaos to the world.

She travels with Shiro across Kyoto and Tokyo, to enlist the help of shinigami to aid in her quest, while also trying to keep up with her school work at the prestigious Kōgakkan high school! The way this novel handled Kira’s dual world was phenomenally done!

There’s so much depth to her journey as she views and tries to balance these 2 parts of her life, the everyday and the supernatural. The magic of this world seamlessly blends in with the reality and day-to-day of Japan.

This is such a great standalone because, you get such a solid grasp as to who the characters are and their stories. The dynamics between the characters are all interesting and compelling, overall what makes them great is how their personalities are elevated through Kira’s pov. For example, the brother dynamics between Shiro and Ronin, or Kira and Ichigo all have this unresolved/unsaid conflict that show the rift between family. Even Lady Katayama (O-bei) whose Shiro’s adopted mother, is such a powerful force on the page, yet still retains an air of mystery as Kira’s trying to continue her quest.

However, the friendship (and possible romance) between Shiro and Kira was one of my favorites too, because no matter what he’s there to offer her help and join her in any way that he can (even tagging along at her school). There’s this undeniable trust between them and Shiro continuously supports Kira in her cause. There’s always a sweet and supportive moment of them together on the page.

As for the plot, while its a bit slow its always surprising. Kira is traveling to real life locations (parks, cities) even spirit worlds, to seek out Shinigami who are hidden by glamour. I also don’t know much about Torii gates, but I fee like it represented this shift from our world to the sacred (shrine), supernatural settings and I appreciated how they were woven into the story.

You see Kira’s internal struggle as she feels out of place in our real world and yet is still trying to find her footing in the world of the yokai and shinigami. Its heartbreaking, because she has to navigate this world without her grandfather, who she loved so much and who also supported/helped her in the journey to become a priestess. Its very much a personal journey and one she’s willing to take risks for! However, she finds support through Shiro, Oni-chan, and the shinigami who allow her to better understand this world she feels the most at home to.

The build-up of those last few chapters are some of my favorite and enjoyed seeing how it all came together. Learning how Amaterasu’s sword, the spirits, and Kira’s own personal journey all wove to create an epic conclusion always offered something new to explore throughout the story and I loved that.

Alameda and Maetani’s writing styles flowed perfectly together and I would be thrilled to read more YA books co-authored by them in the future. Also, what makes it even more amazing is that its co-written two female authors of color, Latine/Latina and #ownvoices Japanese writers! According to the Author’s Note, they did travel to Japan and did a lot of research, which you can tell through the writing! While it does feel like there’s some moments of repetition and cliche metaphors, overall the writing was so good. Its descriptive and you could sense the magic flowing throughout the world! This atmospheric urban fantasy, creates such vivid pictures in your mind about the setting, weather, that you feel transported to Japan. Perhaps its just me, but there’s also the sense of a chilling, horror woven in which makes the atmosphere of the book even more unique!

There’s lots of beautiful descriptions and imagery that I felt rooted in the world from page 1. The atmosphere of the Fujikawa shrine evokes a deep sense of connection to its lore and history that bring not only that, but so many other elements of the world to life.

Shadows was as brilliant as it was in my opinion, due to its 1st person perspective. You’re given this look into Kira’s journey to become more confident and gain that inner strength. She’s ready to take all the risks and defend her family’s shrine, whether it means traveling to spirit worlds, unlocking family mysteries, facing yokai, or just trying to keep up with her classes! There’s a conflict she feels being stuck between 2 worlds and whether its the themes, character dynamics, or gravity to her mission, Kira as a character is authentic, you feel grounded and connected to her story because of how she comes to life.

Important themes your presented with throughout the book are loyalty, honor, and family. When Kira’s grandfather is killed, she carries on his work at the shrine, because she showed her how important it was. Her goal then is to not only honor him, but preserve his legacy by saving the world. Their bond was incredibly strong and you see how it motivates her to take action. In contrast, you see how there’s a strain on her relationship with her family who are focused on their reputation and image, that they really don’t understand Kira’s dedication to the shrine.

My only issue which made my rating a 4 was that because we know a final battle is coming, the pacing can feel rather slow. Being almost a little over 350 pages, we know what the end goal is so it can feel like the shinigami quest takes its time to progress. There’s lots of traveling, training, and preparation, while its lots of fun, you can see the pacing suffers at times.

Also, personally there’s a character thread I wasn’t particularly a fan of, which was for Kiku (a shinigami/ogre). *Spoilers ahead, but he shows up early on to talk to Kira and Shiro about the sword, then disappears only to show up at the end, which is where we get all this backstory. I just felt his story was kind of unnecessary and out of place with all the other shinigami and everything else that was already going on, in my opinion.

Overall though, when the book finally wrapped up I was sad because I felt so connected to Kira and her world. I wouldn’t mind more future books with her at the shrine! This is a book that is filled with so much depth and love, its fallen under the radar and more people NEED to read it!

Seven Deadly Shadows is a quiet, underrated standalone novel that will leave you wanting more! Driven by its dynamic cast, and compelling story, Kira’s tale is one of honor, growth, and finding one’s own path! The atmospheric world, writing, and immersive plot through its exploration of Japanese culture, makes Alameda and Maetani’s urban fantasy a must-read!

Today’s review will also feature a fellow book blogger shout-out! 📚🎉

I recommend Amanda from MetalPhantasmRead’s Review!It’s no surprise I adored Kira and her journey, so if your looking for a review that gives you all those little details about it, Amanda’s review one to check out! ✨

*Also, this month I’m celebrating 5 years on the blog and have a Q&A Tweet if anyone would like to ask any bookish, blogging, or other fun questions?? OR feel free to leave them here on this review!! 🥳📚🎉

The Tiger At Midnight by Swati Teerdhala ARC Review

The Tiger At Midnight by Swati TeerdhalaThe Tiger At Midnight by Swati Teerdhala (TTAM #1)

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: April 23, 2019

Pages: 496

Available Through The Book Depository: The Tiger At Midnight

Summary: Esha is a legend, but no one knows. It’s only in the shadows that she moonlights as the Viper, the rebels’ highly skilled assassin. She’s devoted her life to avenging what she lost in the royal coup, and now she’s been tasked with her most important mission to date: taking down the ruthless General Hotha.

Kunal has been a soldier since childhood, training morning and night to uphold the power of King Vardaan. His uncle, the general, has ensured that Kunal never strays from the path—even as a part of Kunal longs to join the outside world, which has been growing only more volatile.

Then Esha’s and Kunal’s paths cross—and an unimaginable chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces. As the bonds that hold their land in order break down and the sins of the past meet the promise of a new future, both rebel and soldier must make unforgivable choices.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Tiger At Midnight is a complex, character-driven YA Fantasy debut that you don’t want to miss! While exploring themes of loyalty and identity, Teerdhala’s start to this trilogy reads like an epic tale with romance, politics, mythology, and intrigue! 

Its true that there are so many great books that go under the radar, but please don’t let this book be one of them! The Tiger At Midnight is a debut I highly recommend adding to your TBR if you haven’t already–from the Indian history and Hindu mythology that lay the foundation of the world-building, to our main characters Kunal and Esha who are on opposing sides, but find themselves unlocking the mysteries about their world through each other–this book is one that YA Fantasy readers need to check out!

I actually had the opportunity to interview Swati for Tiger which you can check out here–and she mentioned that one of her biggest inspirations came from her love of history and mythology! From the world-building of Dharka and Jansa which are both on the same mass of land to the descriptions of the mountain ranges, jungles, and desert, Teerdhala’s descriptions allow the setting to unfold like an epic and you can sense that throughout the story!

The plot gets very interesting when Esha is sent on a mission which also involves enacting her revenge on the feared General Hotha (Kunal’s uncle) and seeking out more information! She lost her family in a Jansan coup and wants to avenge not only those she lost, but the Dharkan’s + her rebel group the Crescent Blades.

She’s shocked to learn that someone has already killed the general and set her up as the culprit with a replica of her infamous whip. Now, she’s on the run to figure out who would want to frame her and why & make it back to her rebel group to figure out what the next move is.

Then there’s Kunal, who’s been trained by his uncle as a soldier of the Fort and plans on one day becoming commander. However, when he hears the news of the general’s death he’s not entirely sure how to process what’s happened, but he also has an idea of who may have been involved–Esha! He had met her early on in the story and suspected with her mysterious appearance she may have something to do with it.

Before anyone (Kunal included) can link her to the death of the general or piece together she’s the Viper, she’s on the run to get back to the rebel base. However, Kunal and other fellow soldiers are given the task of finding the Viper and the first person to do-so, will be automatically promoted to commander.

To honor his uncle, Kunal takes charge and follows his suspicion of Esha’s involvement. This leads to their cat-and-mouse chase as Esha continuously maneuvers her way to freedom! However, along the way Esha and Kunal find themselves falling for each other.

Now, Kunal is worried what will happen to Esha if he does take her back as a prisoner. This leads to one of my favorite themes explored throughout the entirety of the novel: Identity!

Both Kunal and Esha have become who they are now due to events of their past and within The Tiger At Midnight they are constantly brought into situations that makes them question if their goals really are theirs to begin with and whether they truly understand themselves anymore.

Kunal is one of the characters who I found to have really struggled with this idea of identity. For most of his life he’s been trained by his uncle to be a promising soldier, but with that he’s been extremely sheltered from the outside world. Along the way as he learns who Esha really is, he begins questioning why he’s even sacrificing his life to become commander. *While I don’t want to give too much away, there are moments in his past that get revealed and he essentially is given a new identity and finds himself on the verge of danger if anyone was to find out. I found that to be one of the most fascinating twists to this story that I wasn’t expecting at all!

Teerdhala explores the foundation of identity, how our past can shape it, and the aspects of our lives that can allow us to shape it into something different. Through both Esha and Kunal we see this brought into view with each new chapter!

They both feel almost indebted to their pasts in a way, where their still figuring out what it is they personally want to fight for. Both Esha & Kunal have also done things in their life they aren’t proud of, but it made them who they are and I found that’s summed up perfectly by this quote:

“Never greet a tiger at midnight, for they are the manifestations of your past misdeeds.”

I really loved the cast of characters, they were all very well developed and I found them to all have their depth to them no matter how few moments we encountered them in the story! From Kunal’s soldier friends like Alok & Laksh to Esha’s rebel friends we learn more about like Prince Harun & Arpiya! All these characters were just introduced in this first book, but felt so incredibly real/developed and I can’t wait to see where their journeys are headed in book 2!

The female friendship between Esha & Arpiya was lovely & I’m really looking forward to reading more about their wonderful friendship.

I also have some theories about Prince Harun (who is defintiely hiding something–though I’m not sure what!!) and I can’t wait to see where his development goes as he is a dear friend to Esha, fighting for the throne, and a rebel leader!

The world was also such fun to explore throughout The Tiger At Midnight–we learn more about the jansa bond between Dharka and Jansa, even how it plays into a very important underlying element of the world. There’s a lot of secrets that get uncovered as to why this bond is vital and I’m looking forward to seeing how its explored further in book 2 (which also involves a secret royal!!).

The Tiger At Midnight is told through 3rd Person POV while alternating between Kunal and Esha’s perspectives. I found that to be such a great way to tell the story because we not only get these differing perspectives from 2 fantastic main characters, but also learn more about the world from characters on opposing sides!

Now I’m going to discuss why I personally rated this 4 stars! For me, I usually struggle with 3rd person because I find I get more immersed into a world through the characters head. So, I did find that the world was a little underdeveloped in terms of not necessarily description, but atmosphere and getting the full picture of this setting, various locations, etc.

There are also some plot threads (though I really enjoyed them b/c they surprised me), that could have used a little more development. I’m going to be a bit vague here bc spoilers, but I would have loved for surprising plot twists to have been expanded on just a little more in my opinion!

But overall this was such a fun debut and I can’t wait to see where the story is headed in the sequel–I love Esha & Kunal together so much and I’m incredibly excited to see where their journey takes them next!

The Tiger At Midnight is such a whirlwind adventure with intrigue, a bit of rebellion, romance, magic, and an immersive world that captures you from the very beginning! From the complex and great cast of characters, surprising story that’ll keep you turning the page, and fascinating world inspired by Indian history and Hindu myths, I definitely recommend this YA Fantasy debut if your a fan of An Ember In The Ashes!

January 2019 YA Books I’m Looking Forward To!

Its been so long since I’ve made monthly book release posts! In 2019, I really want to talk more about the upcoming books I’m excited to read!! 😍💕📚✨So, here’s my list of January releases that are on my TBR! 

January 2019

Contemporary

I Moved To Los Angeles To Work In Animation by Natalie Nourigat1.I Moved To Los Angeles To Work In Animation by Natalie Nourigat
Publisher: BOOM! Box (Boom! Studios)
Release Date:
January 1, 2019
Summary: The story of one woman’s quest to move to Los Angeles and got a job in animation…and how you can too.

When artist Tally Nourigat left her life in Portland to move to Los Angeles and pursue a job in animation, she realized that despite her research, nothing truly prepared her for the wild world that awaited in the studios of Southern California. From grinding on storyboard test after storyboard test to getting a job at a major studio to searching for an apartment in…the Valley…this autobiographical how-to graphic novel explores the highest highs and lowest lows of pursuing a dream in animation. Brushed with a dose of humor and illustrated advice about salaries, studio culture, and everything in between, I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation is the unique insider experience you won’t find anywhere else.

Black Enough edited by Ibi Zoboi2.Black Enough: Stories  Of Being Young & Black In America edited by Ibi Zoboi; Including Tracey Baptiste, Coe Booth, Dhonielle Clayton, Brandy Colbert, Jay Coles, Lamar Giles, Leah Henderson, Justina Ireland, Varian Johnson, Kekla Magoon, Tochi Onyebuchi, Jason Reynolds, Nic Stone, Liara Tamani, Renée Watson, & Rita Williams-Garcia
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (EpicReads)
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Summary: Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, and featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today—Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America.

Black is…sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Renée Watson.

Black is…three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds.

Black is…Nic Stone’s high-class beauty dating a boy her momma would never approve of.

Black is…two girls kissing in Justina Ireland’s story set in Maryland.

Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—because there are countless ways to be Black enough. 

The Love And Lies Of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan3. The Love & Lies Of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan
ARC Review To Come
Publisher:
Scholastic Press
Release Date:
January 29, 2019
Summary:
Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.

But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective.

Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?

Contemporary Mystery

Spin by Lamar Giles1.Spin by Lamar Giles
Publisher:
Scholastic Press
Release Date:
January 29, 2019
Summary: Sixteen-year-old Paris Secord’s (aka DJ ParSec) career–and life–has come to an untimely end, and the local music scene is reeling. No one is feeling the pain more than her shunned pre-fame best friend, Kya, and Paris’s chief groupie, Fuse. But suspicion trumps grief, and since each suspects the other of Paris’s murder, they’re locked in a high-stakes game of public accusations and sabotage.

Everyone in the ParSec Nation (DJ ParSec’s local media base)–including the killer–is content to watch it play out, until Kya and Fuse discover a secret: Paris was on the verge of major deal that would’ve catapulted her to superstar status on a national level, leaving her old life (and old friends) behind. With the new info comes new motives. New suspects. And a fandom that shows its deadly side. As Kya and Fuse come closer to the twisted truth, the killer’s no longer amused. But murdering Paris was simple enough, so getting rid of her nobody-friends shouldn’t be an issue…

Fantasy

The Girl King by Mimi Yu1.The Girl King by Mimi Yu
Publisher:
Bloomsbury YA
Release Date:
January 8, 2019
Summary: Two sisters become unwitting rivals in a war to claim the title of Emperor in this richly imagined, Asian-inspired fantasy!

Sisters Lu and Min have always known their places as the princesses of the Empire of the First Flame: the eldest, assertive Lu, will be named her father’s heir and become the dynasty’s first female ruler, while timid Min will lead a quiet life in Lu’s shadow. Then their father names their male cousin Set the heir instead, throwing both girls’ lives into chaos.

Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu is forced to flee, leaving Min to face the volatile court alone. Lu crosses paths with Nokhai, the lone, unlikely survivor of the decimated Ashina, nomadic wolf shapeshifters. Nok never learned to shift–and he has no trust for the Empire that killed his family–but working with the princess might be the key to unlocking his true power.

As Lu and Nok form a tenuous alliance, Min’s own hidden power awakens–a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set’s reign . . . or allow her to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one Emperor, and the sisters’ greatest enemy could very well turn out to be each other.

Told in three distinct points-of-view, this first book in a sweeping fantasy series weaves a story of ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

Circle Of Shadows by Evelyn Skye2.Circle Of Shadows by Evelyn Skye (Circle Of Shadows #1)
Publisher:
Balzer + Bray
Release Date:
January 22, 2019
Summary: Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied around his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging in the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark.

So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo3.King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Publisher:
Imprint
Release Date:
January 29, 2019
Summary: Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

*Because I have so many theories about King Of Scars, keep an eye out for Bookish Theories a new feature where I share all my thoughts & theories for upcoming books!

Historical Fiction

Inventing Victoria by Tonya Bolden1. Inventing Victoria by Tonya Bolden
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Summary: As a young black woman in 1880s Savannah, Essie’s dreams are very much at odds with her reality. Ashamed of her beginnings, but unwilling to accept the path currently available to her, Essie is trapped between the life she has and the life she wants.

Until she meets a lady named Dorcas Vashon, the richest and most cultured black woman she’s ever encountered. When Dorcas makes Essie an offer she can’t refuse, she becomes Victoria. Transformed by a fine wardrobe, a classic education, and the rules of etiquette, Victoria is soon welcomed in the upper echelons of black society in Washington, D. C. But when the life she desires is finally within her grasp, Victoria must decide how much of herself she is truly willing to surrender.

Historical Fantasy

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi1. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
ARC Review To Come
Publisher:
Wednesday Books
Release Date:
January 15, 2019
Summary: Set in a darkly glamorous world, The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous but thrilling adventure.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

Mythology

Oh My Gods by Alexandra Sheppard1. Oh My Gods by Alexandra Sheppard
Publisher: Scholastic UK
Release Date: January 3, 2019
Summary: Life as a half-mortal teenager should be epic.
But, for Helen Thomas, it’s tragic.

She’s just moved in with her dorky dad and self-absorbed older siblings – who happen to be the ancient Greek gods, living incognito in London!

Between keeping her family’s true identities secret, trying to impress her new friends, and meeting an actually cute boy, Helen’s stress levels are higher than Mount Olympus.

She needs to rein in her chaotic family before they blow their cover AND her chances at a half-normal social life.

Or is Helen fated for an embarrassment of mythical proportions?

Retellings

The Cold Is In Her Bones by Peternelle Van Arsdale1.The Cold Is In Her Bones by Peternelle Van Arsdale
Publisher:
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date:
January 22, 2019
Summary: Milla knows two things to be true: Demons are real, and fear will keep her safe.

Milla’s whole world is her family’s farm. She is never allowed to travel to the village and her only friend is her beloved older brother, Niklas. When a bright-eyed girl named Iris comes to stay, Milla hopes her loneliness might finally be coming to an end. But Iris has a secret she’s forbidden to share: The village is cursed by a demon who possesses girls at random, and the townspeople live in terror of who it will come for next.

Now, it seems, the demon has come for Iris. When Iris is captured and imprisoned with other possessed girls, Milla leaves home to rescue her and break the curse forever. Her only company on the journey is a terrible new secret of her own: Milla is changing, too, and may soon be a demon herself.

What January 2019 Books Are You Looking Forward To? 😍📚✨🎉🎉

 

November 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 4

Empress Of All Seasons by Emiko Jean1.Empress Of All Seasons by Emiko Jean 

ARC| Started November 2 + Finished November 8 | My Rating: ★★★★☆ | Empress Of All Seasons ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Empress Of All Seasons is a wonderfully character-driven YA Fantasy that’s inspired by deeply woven Japanese Mythology! There’s intrigue, action, politics, adventure, and rising rebellion! Mari is part Yokai (those who have the ability to transform into monsters or other supernatural creatures) and we soon learn her mother has been training her all her life to prepare her for a competition in the royal palace where all female contestants must battle within the 4 seasonal rooms for the prince’s hand in marriage! Mari definitely had a bit of an anti-hero vibe which I loved so much! Told through 3 POV’s we follow Mari, her childhood friend Akira, & Prince Taro! The character-development and plot are explored in ways you don’t really expect and the world is incredibly immersive. Though the pacing was a bit uneven at times and the writing was rather direct & simplistic, above all Empress was a book that really subverted tropes and expectations as the story developed!

Empire Of Sand by Tasha Suri2.Empire Of Sand by Tasha Suri (The Books Of Ambha #1)

ARC |Started November 9 + Finished November 12 | My Rating:★★★★★ |Empire Of Sand ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Empire Of Sand has easily become one of my favorite books of all-time and I HIGHLY recommend this utterly fantastic epic fantasy debut! Set in a world inspired by India’s Mughal Empire, we follow Mehr who’s the daughter of a governor who is 1/2 Ambhan & Amrithi (those descended from desert spirits). When her Amrithi powers put her in jeopardy, she must now embark on a journey and leave her family behind to a religious temple taken there by Mystics while, through complex circumstances, she becomes married to a fellow Amrithi (Amun). The two learn more about each other and the power they have when faced with important choices and a mysterious and important religious figure in the temple! One of my absolute favorite elements of Empire was the dynamics between Mehr & the other characters (especially Amun <3). The writing is lush, vibrant and allows you to connect with everything from the characters, world, complex themes, etc.! I can’t put into words just how phenomenal this book is! I loved everything about it, from the writing, story, deeply explored & complex themes of choice, love, family, and so much more! The richly detailed story is immersive, magical, & complex! Suri’s debut is not one to miss and I’m incredibly excited to see where the series is headed!

Fields Of Fire by Hannah West3.Fields Of Fire by Hannah West (The Nissera Chronicles #1.5)

Owned | Started + Finished November 16 |My Rating: ★★★★☆ | Fields Of Fire Full Review

Overall Thoughts: An immersive novella that brings reader’s back to the land of Nissera from West’s debut, Kingdom Of Ash And Briars! This short story runs parallel to KOAAB and follows a group of spies as they attempt to uncover the identity of an alchemist linked with a dangerous weapon that could turn the tides of war! Following Drell, Reed, Gannan, & Skye–they scope out a local inn and attempt to gather intel. What made this novella so much fun was how through West’s writing, you were easily immersed in the story and action. One of my favorite dynamics was Drell & Gannan as they go undercover as a couple at the inn! There’s a good amount of backstory for such a short novella. My only minor issues are that the world itself did take me a bit to fully re-connect with and there were minor/side characters I wish had more development. However, this novella above all is a tale that is filled with intrigue as it builds a little more into the Nissera Chronicles and left me absolutely excited to dive into Realm Of Ruins the companion/spin-off!

This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada4.This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada (This Mortal Coil #2)

Library | Started November 17 + Finished November 21 | My Rating: ★★★★☆ | This Cruel Design Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Suvada’s sequel delivers on even more depth and exploration in terms of Cat as a character and her past, the world, even the technology introduced in This Mortal Coil! As Cat is faced with the conflict of the past she knows vs. the past everyone else remembers of her, she is faced with loneliness and we learn much more about her life as Jun Bei! Cat & the crew are tasked with finding Lachlan and an antidote to a quickly mutating virus. There’s new characters (like Mato–who really surprised me) and a more centralized focus on the characters and city of Entropia which really allowed for a unique kind of depth! However, I did sadly take off a star with the fact that we already know the end-goal going into TMC, I found the pacing to be really slow and the introduction of a character later into the story, which I found to really take away from the centralized group already in the story! However, the plot was great and I loved the character-development and as with Suvada’s ending to This Mortal Coil, This Cruel Design leaves you wanting the next book right away!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Literary Travels feat. The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta

Pre-Order Book Swag, Using Libraries, & Why Libraries Matter To Me As A Book Blogger {Book Blog Discussion}

2018 Reads Giveaway List! for my current Giveaway on Twitter

~ For November 2018, overall I had a pretty solid reading month, but I was expecting to read a couple more books! 😭📚✨

Plans For December:

~ With this being the last month of 2018, I want to try & finish up some 2018 releases that I’ve kept on my TBR throughout this year and have really been looking forward to reading! 😍❤📚

~ Share a podcast review that has been sitting in my drafts for the past month 🎙✨😂 Its a really great podcast and I’m really looking forward to recommending it!

~ I want to try and beat my previous amount of books read in 2017 (which was 72)! Hopefully it’ll happen? I have 10+ books I want to finish before 2019, so I’m going to try & stick to it! 📚🍀✨

~ Finalize some 2019 posts, hopefully share some 2018 TBR Lists & maybe a yearly wrap-up? (I’m still thinking about it 😂✨📚📚)

This has been my November 2018 Wrap-Up! What books did you read in November? & What’s on your End-Of-The-Year TBR? 😍📚📚✨

Empress Of All Seasons by Emiko Jean ARC Review

Empress Of All Seasons by Emiko JeanEmpress Of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers

Release Date: November 6, 2018

Pages: 384

Summary: Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku.

*Received ARC through Yallwest*

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Empress Of All Seasons is a character-driven YA Fantasy inspired by rich, deeply woven Japanese mythology, great cast of characters, a plot filled with intrigue, politics, action, & adventure!

Empress was a book that had such a unique premise and what really made it shine, was the characters and their development!

Set in the country of Honoku, there’s strict rules against yokai, or those who have the ability to transform in to monsters or other supernatural creatures. They are treated as a lesser class and for those that are caught, are enslaved and forced to wear an iron collar that subdues them and their powers. More importantly, if any are found anywhere near the palace, they are either tortured or killed.

Mari is a Yokai. She lives in the all-female village of Tsuma, hidden away in the mountains of Honoku. She has been trained all her life by her strict mother, who along with all the other women in the village, are Animal Wives!

Animal Wives are women who use their Yoaki abilities to trick men into marrying them & take their fortunes.

Because Mari is assumed to never have the capability of becoming an Animal Wife, her mother has trained her in combat to ready herself for the competition that takes place in the Imperial City, mainly the Palace Of Illusions where all female contestants must battle within the 4 seasonal rooms for the prince’s hand in marriage!

Though she has never felt quite at home in her village, she does have one friend who she cares for deeply, Hissa! She is reminded of what it could mean for her and the yokai, but more importantly herself if she wins the title of empress.

Now a part of the competition, she must lie and deceive the court, pretend she is human and win the competition.

Within Mari’s village, we learn of a boy named Akira, who’s mother was a ghost yokai and father was human, he is known as the Son Of Nightmares. He has the ability to disappear and is one Mari’s other best friend!

They both care for each other, but its clear Akira really loves her!

When he learns she’s left for the competition, he takes charge to ensure she’s safe and tries to convince her to run away with him. He gets told to find a Weapons Master, which quickly leads him towards a new path and fate when trying to look after Mari!

Little does he know, he gets caught up in a rebellion, where there is a secret Yokai resistance, ready to destroy the system that keeps them enslaved. The rebellion is led by Hanako, aka Snow Girl, a yokai who has gathered a rebel army in secret + hiding to free the yokai!

Prince Taro, doesn’t want anything to do with the upcoming competition and spends his days in his workshop, creating and inventing. One of his favorite inventions is a mechanical bird! However, when Mari finds herself hiding behind a palace wall, she without knowing, ends up meeting prince Taro.

He becomes intrigued by her and the two have this almost unsaid crush on each other. What I loved about Jean’s development to the “romance” is that its never really a central aspect to the story. Mari is focused more on herself and where her goals will lead her & those she loves throughout the competition. Though its clear that Taro & Mari are interested in each other.

Akira becomes part of the rebellion to bring about a better world for Yokai, while with Prince Taro we are shown that he is not okay with how the yokai are treated (which started with his father, the Emperor), but still wants nothing to do with the throne.

I loved how these characters are so different than when the book begins and seeing them develop in such unique ways really kept me invested!

Empress is presented as a single and linear story focusing on a competition within seasonal rooms, but its so much more than just that! The summary really leaves out the different sides to this story, but it works so well, because you don’t really expect it!

Now I don’t want to spoil the end, but it really weaves together all these different plot threads and leaves on such an unexpected, but overall really satisfying note!

This novel is told through 3 POVs: we have Mari, Akira, & prince Taro! I loved how the differing POVs were not only distinct, but explore the world of Honako and the incredibly layered story.

I loved all 3 povs equally! Each character goes through so much development and undergo such unexpected journeys throughout the book.

There were also so many great side characters, like Asami who is alongside Mari w/ the other competitors to win title of Empress. She was so incredibly developed and I loved the interesting friendship they form when they both agree to be allies in the competition.

Asami is a character who is a bit of an enigma, but I love how there’s so much more to her reasoning for entering the competition + overall just her personality shines so much in this book. She was definitely one of my favorites!

Also aside from this novel being #ownvoices for Japanese rep./culture, was also the hint to Hanako being a lesbian (& that she loved Asami). 

Now as to why I’m rating this 4 stars, is due to the uneven pacing, a couple elements to the writing-style, & development in regards to the seasonal rooms!

  *TBH though, I find the rating on this to be super difficult for me to state because on an enjoyment scale its a 4.5, but if I’m looking at it overall, 4 seems to make the most sense? Ratings can be super difficult for me! 😂📚🌟

As the story progresses, the pacing becomes a bit slow especially throughout the middle and nearing the end. Yet, its also fast-paced near the end. So, above all the pacing fluctuated all throughout.

I did read an ARC so, this may have changed a bit, but the writing-style at points was rather direct and simplistic? So a lot of what what was introduced (in regards to characters, what they were feeling/development) did seem more like it was being told rather than shown.

I also loved the seasonal rooms within the palace, but I wish there was more even more development and inclusion of them with the overall story. Though with the background we do learn about them, it was fascinating– the rooms have a mind of their own and the extreme weather or obstacles the girls encounter within them, are a way of bringing balance to the rooms (which was so interesting!).

But, what I really loved about Empress Of All Seasons is that it accomplished what I expected more of in Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns, in terms of delivering a morally grey main character & the world-building!

Mari, to me seemed to be a bit of an anti-hero, there’s this dark side to her because she’s on this journey not just for her village, but along the way she learns its okay to go after things for yourself! She is showing these two differing sides and with the palace intrigue, its a mystery whether she’ll be able to keep her secrets!

Same goes with the world-building! The world isn’t just stated by the names of places, many elements to the world are explored, developed, and its incredibly immersive! I found myself picturing the world each and every moment I picked the book back up!

Overall, Empress Of All Seasons surprised me in many ways I was not expecting and ends on a note that really subverts tropes and expectations.

Empress Of All Seasons is a unique YA Fantasy, which is very character-driven, filled with intrigue, action, and adventure! If your looking for a standalone YA Fantasy with Japanese mythology, a competition, politics, & a rising rebellion, this is a fantasy you definitely want to check out!

October 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi1. Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi (TSTQ #2.5)

Library | Started September 12 + Finished October 1 |Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ |Star-Touched Stories Full Review

Overall Thoughts: This collection is not one to miss for fans of The Star-Touched Series! They explore love, loss, acceptance, finding one’s inner strength & so much more! The 3 stories within this collection include: Death And Night, Poison And Gold, & Rose And Sword. What I adored about this collection is that even though it supplements the series, there continues to be so much development that adds more to the TSTQ world overall, in such a fantastic way! While I did take my time reading this collection, it was until I got to the last story that I was really savoring each moment with these characters & I still wasn’t ready to leave this world behind (B/c this is the final Star-Touched novel). I’m really going to miss Maya, Amar, Aasha, & my fave duo Gauri & Vikram 😭✨❤ My only minor issue is that there was some slow pacing throughout Aasha’s story. I adored this collection so much and felt it wonderfully wrapped up the series!

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab2.Vengeful by V.E. Schwab (Villains #2)

Owned | Started September 27 + Finished October 8 |Rating:★★★★☆ ½|Vengeful Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Vengeful is the sequel we’ve waited years for! This novel is brilliantly dark, action-packed, & character-driven! What Schwab does that really takes this sequel in a different direction, is allowing the story to focus more on new/side-characters (like Marcella & June) and there’s also the introduction to this mysterious organization called EON. I loved getting more to Eli’s backstory and overall seeing the fate of these characters I loved, 5 years later! Schwab brilliantly incorporates numerous POVs across a varied amount of timelines and with series in particular, masterfully ties everything together. As to why it wasn’t a full 5, the pacing did feel a bit slow when I finally saw where the story would lead. As the book progressed, I actually found myself less interested in June as a character, & I really wanted more scenes of Victor & Eli (b/c I adore these messed up super-villains so much!! ❤❤) Above all, Vengeful was an epic, dark, twisted continuation to the Villains Series, that took everything I loved from Vicious & brought it to an entirely new level!

The Royal Tutor Volume 2 by Higasa Akai3. The Royal Tutor Vol. 2 by Higasa Akai (The Royal Tutor #2)

Owned | Started + Finished October 15 |Rating:★★★★☆ ½ |The Royal Tutor Volume 2 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: The Royal Tutor is one of my favorite manga series and I was so happy to be continuing it with volume 2! Heine, the tutor, now begins is introductory lessons with the princes. What makes this volume shine is the focus on the characters (mainly princes) and the strong tight-knit bond they share. Their always there to support each-other & I loved seeing my favorite princes be there for one another 😭❤❤✨ The plot unfolds in a great way (as do the mysteries) and the comedy in this series is fantastic! My only minor issue is that I’m really hoping to get more expansion on the setting & there are 2 side characters who barley have any page time, so I don’t feel like I know a whole lot about them. The Royal Tutor continues to be a great manga series with a main cast you can’t help but adore & filled so much humor. I’m really looking forward to the 3rd volume!

Blanca &amp; Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore4. Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

ARC |Started October 12 + Finished October 25 |Rating:★★★★☆ ½ |Blanca & Roja ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Anna-Marie’s tales always captivate me and Blanca & Roja is no different. Her latest lush magical realism tale weaves together Swan Lake with Snow White And Rose Red and its such a beautiful story! We follow sisters Blanca and Roja, who have been raised to be rivals involving a generation-long spell where every generation in their family, one of 2 sisters will become a swan! Having grown up to believe they will always be opposites, Roja believes she will be taken by the swans. Even though this conflict exists between them, their bond is so strong & they are willing to keep secrets to help one another. However things change when 2 boys, Page & Barclay, become involved in this game. As with all of McLemore’s books, she explores identity and gender so beautifully! I adored these 4 with all my heart ❤ The dynamics explored between each of them have so many layers and are beautifully developed. The plot unravels in unexpected & magical ways! Family, love, and identity are such important themes in this novel and are explored with such depth! As with all of Anna-Marie’s novels, they are truly unforgettable & will continue to stay with me! I can’t wait for her next amazing novel~

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta5. The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta (The Brilliant Death #1)

ARC | Started October 24 + Finished October 26 |My Rating:★★★★☆ ½ |The Brilliant Death ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: The Brilliant Death was a book I went into with incredibly high expectations and was incredibly happy to see that it exceeded them! Set in a magical 19th Century-inspired Italian setting, we are introduced to Teo(a Strega) who goes on a mission to the country of Vinalia’s capital to save her father (one of 5 heads of the controlling families), when it seems all the families heads have fallen. She must do so, not disguised as a boy, but turned into one! With her Strega abilities, alongside her gender-fluid tutor Cielo, they both embark on this journey & discover so much along the way! The world of Vinalia is detailed, immersive, & given wonderful development + exploration! My only minor issue is that ending did feel a little rushed. However, The Brilliant Death is a wholly unique and fantastic start to a new YA Fantasy series! With exploration of gender & identity, and an adventure filled with politics & intrigue, Amy Rose Capetta’s fantasy debut is not one to miss! I’m expecting so much from this series!

Satoko And Nada Vol. 16. Satoko And Nada by Yupechika (Satoko & Nada #1)

Library| Started + Finished October 27 | My Rating: ★★★★★ | Satoko And Nada Volume 1 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Satoko & Nada is one of those mangas that I think will definitely be loved for fans of YA! Continuing their uni/college studies in America, Satoko and Nada find themselves becoming roommates and the best of friends! What truly shines about this manga debut is the friendship and amazing characters, from Satoko, Nada, Pakeezah, Ameena, Miracle, & Kevin! The characters are so incredibly developed and they really come to life by the end of this first volume! Satoko & Nada also discusses common misconceptions of Saudi & Islamic culture, while also discussing homesickness, etc. Its also really diverse! The pacing is fantastic, the comedy is perfect, & its the kind of story you want to re-read all over again because it leaves a smile on your face! Satoko & Nada is a fantastic manga debut and one I highly recommend if your looking for a comedic contemporary, & slice-of-life story!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Girl In Space Podcast Review {Literary Listens}

Author Interview With Janelle Milanes {Analee, In Real Life}

No More Heroes: Hell Or High Water by Michelle Kan {Exclusive Cover Reveal}

Non-Fiction Podcasts I’ve Been Listening To! {Literary Listens}

Book Bytes #16

~ So overall I was pretty happy with the books I read in October & the content I posted ❤🎃✨📚😍 I’m also slowly but, surely getting back on track with my TBR!

Plans For November:

~ As always catch up on ARCs & new releases 😅📚✨ If your interested in seeing more daily reading/bookish updates definitely check out my twitter! & I’ve been in kind of Twitter slump recently, so it’d be so awesome to start bookish conversations on there 😍📚✨❤❤

~ I’ve been working on a new blog feature & I am beyond excited to be debuting it this month on the blog! (Hint: it involves recently released/upcoming fantasy books!!) 😍📚✨⚔

~ I also may have another Literary Listens post up, it could be a podcast review or a podcast recommendation list! (I’m still deciding) 🎙✨

~ I’m also prepping some December & early 2019 posts that will definitely introduce some new bookish content to my blog! ❤❤📚🎉

Thanks for checking out my October 2018 Wrap-Up! What books did you read in October? or Any blog posts you enjoyed creating last month? Are there any that your planning on reading in November? 😍📚✨💕

Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi Review

Star-Touched Stories by Roshani ChokshiStar-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi (TSTQ #2.5)

Publisher: St. Martins Press

Release Date: August 7, 2018

Pages: 388

Summary: Three lush and adventurous stories in the Star-Touched world.

Death and Night

He was Lord of Death, cursed never to love. She was Night incarnate, destined to stay alone. After a chance meeting, they wonder if, perhaps, they could be meant for more. But danger crouches in their paths, and the choices they make will set them on a journey that will span lifetimes.

Poison and Gold

Now that her wish for a choice has come true, Aasha struggles to control her powers. But when an opportunity to help Queen Gauri and King Vikram’s new reign presents itself, she is thrown into the path of the fearsome yet enchanting Spy Mistress. To help her friends, Aasha will have to battle her insecurities and perhaps, along the way, find love.

Rose and Sword

There is a tale whispered in the dark of the Empire of Bharat-Jain. A tale of a bride who loses her bridegroom on the eve of her wedding. But is it a tale or a truth? 

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Readers are once again immersed into the world of The Star-Touched Queen through three dazzlingly written stories that explore love, loss, acceptance, and so much more! Star-Touched Stories is not a collection to miss for fans of the series! Chokshi’s storytelling weaves magic and wonder with each page!

Death And Night by Roshani Chokshi: ★★★★★

This first story is set up to be a prequel to The Star-Touched Queen, which follows the past lives of Maya & Amar + how they fell in love! (There’s also some references to TSTQ).

Death wanders the land of Naraka, lonely with only the night sky as his solace and comfort. Then there is Night herself, who sells dream fruit (allowing people to have any kind of dream), and all she longs for is recognition or remembrance for what she’s done!

Both are death & night incarnate, and through Chokshi’s writing we get such thought-provoking passages of the movement of time, connection, longing for love, loneliness…just such moving passages that are delivered through each of them and what they long for!

Death runs into Night after hearing about her & figuring she may be the one, before Teej comes (which Death isn’t looking forward to)! They meet after an evening in the Night Bazaar and there beautiful relationship goes from there!

We see how lonely they both are, but in different ways! As their relationship develops, its so clear that they both have fears that are holding them back from being with each other. However, when they are with each other, they begin to see that each of them understands the deepest secrets + dreams within their hearts.

We learn that Death’s heart was cursed by the Shadow Wife to always lose his love and seeing how it added so much more to his apprehension of finding love at first was so incredibly developed and weaved into not only his story, but the story overall! 

I loved how Chokshi developed their relationship and through the beautiful dual POV 1st person narrative, get immersed in such a beautiful tale.

Additionally, through Chokshi exploring both Death & Night, we see how throughout the story, they unlock each others deepest dreams + wishes as they connect and grow with each other.

The descriptions and overall atmosphere of this novella was phenomenal! I could picture Naraka, Nights dream fruit, Death (who had elaborate horns on his head, which was really cool!), the worlds and place both Night & Death explore, the wondrous imagery of the night sky, dreams, etc.!

What also allowed me to really love this story is that through Chokshi’s elegant writing-style, it made me pause and think with every few lines because of how beautifully and thought-provokingly written they were! The breaks I took while reading this novella really allowed the words to sink in and for me to completely fall in love with the story of Death And Night!

Above all what really stuck with me throughout this story was the exploration of love and when you meet someone who truly understands not only do they help you become your best self, but they also allow you to face the truths that aren’t always easy to say out loud that they can clearly see!

This novella explored love, deeply moving emotions, and through such lyrical, profound writing, The tale of Death And Night, was truly one of my favorites!

Poison And Gold by Roshani Chokshi: ★★★★☆ ½

Poison And Gold is a short-story/epilogue to A Crown Of Wishes, which now follows Gauri & Vikram’s friend that they met briefly during the Tournament Of Wishes, Aasha who is a Vishakanya and has left her life as a poisoner behind to be with Gauri & Vikram in the real world.

Now she’s given an opportunity by Vikram & Gauri to become their Spy Mistress and train with the current Spy, Zahril or risk being sent home and no longer being allowed among Gauri & Vikram, according to the council.

Now as she trains among Zahril, she learns more about what it means to be truly human and how as a Vishakanya, she’ll be able to avoid being found out by Zahril while proving she has what it takes to become Spy Mistress.

With my love for A Crown Of Wishes, I was so incredibly happy to return to this world where Vikram & Gauri are now married and busy with ruling over their united kingdoms of Bharata-Ujjain.

I loved seeing the beautiful friendship bloom even stronger between them & Aasha! ❤

Aasha goes through so much development within this story! First, she is still in fear of Vishakanya abilities and the destruction it brings, but over the course of the novel (even if she does have to keep it hidden) she begins to understand more about how it connects to her past when she was the in harem, but also how her powers are a part of her + how she comes to accept it on her journey to become Spy Mistress!

Her instructor, Zahril isn’t exactly all to happy with her there in the first place (& her hatred of Vishakanyas doesn’t make things much easier), but through her trials and tasks, we find how it not only allows Aasha to become more confident in who she is, but how there’s so many different facets to the role Aasha is training for!

We see how this fear of revealing her abilities also brings an element of intrigue and thought-provoking moments as Aasha questions what it means to be a Vishakanya.

There’s also f/f rep., when we learn more to Zahril’s past and how she was in love with a girl named Samza, but was killed by Vishakanyas + as Zahril begins to accept Aasha as a potential candidate, Aasha finds herself falling for her!

The writing as with all of Chokshi’s stories builds so much depth to the world & what we were already familiar with in A Crown Of Wishes! The little details also build on the emotional depth of each character and their view of the world, its magic, etc.

Overall I loved returning to the world of A Crown Of Wishes & seeing my favorite characters again + getting introduced to one of my new favorite characters Zahril! I loved how this story focused on having Aasha accept her strengths and not letting the fear overcome her!

Poison And Gold is a short story that is all about growth, friendship, love, and forging your own path! I loved it!

Rose and Sword:★★★★★

In the kingdom of Bharata-Ujijain, 10-year old Hira helps her sister on the day before her wedding by packing up her favorite toys and putting them in a chest for Meghana. But, Meghana is nervous and lashes out in anger at Hira. So, Hira heads to her grandmother’s quarters where her grandmother recounts a story of a queen on her wedding night.

From what I gathered this story takes place well after A Crown Of Wishes and I loved reading the hints/references to it, like later in the 1st chapter, its stated that the women in Hira’s family were immune to poison and it hinted at a rumor surrounding a blue star they were born with (like w/ Aasha?) & of course the story revolving around Garui & Vikram’s wedding ❤ ❤ + seeing very early on that Hira’s grandmother is Gauri.

I just loved seeing this past/present/future timeline to see how Gauri & Vikram were doing!!

The story follows Gauri on the day before her wedding and the journey, she’s feeling so many different things (especially uncertainty, maybe fear). So, she is shocked when she realizes Vikram is sick and she stays with him as its revealed that the physicians aren’t sure whats wrong.

When its revealed that a messenger of death may come for Vikram, Gauri knows she will do whatever it takes to make sure he is brought back! So the messenger (which disguises itself as Gauri) tasks her with reaching & retrieving Vikram’s last breath from the Kingdom Of Death by passing many Gates, before sunrise!

The journey to the first gate leaves Gauri remembering her sister Maya & reflecting on an argument she & Vikram had in the past, a reminder to who she could lose if she doesn’t make it in time.

Its so clear the love each other and that they’ve both grown so much, and knowing what’s at stake, my heart broke during her flashbacks.

Next, Gauri makes it to the Gate Of Grief and into an unknown white palace, where she finds Vikram’s voice, but learns something about love, the truth that there will be a day when she loses him, and the bravery of love, (even when you let go)!

Gauri then makes it in time to get back to Vikram! I loved reading about how their wedding turned out and what Hira takes away from the story in the end, when she thinks of the anger (which was actually a sense of fear) that Meghana had before her own wedding!

Now I don’t want to spoil it, but the epilogue that finished off this story was beautiful, there were definitely some tears (I love Gauri & Vikram so much!! 😭✨❤❤)

Overall, though I absolutely adored every tale in Star-Touched Stories, my only minor issue is that the pacing was a bit slow for me as I spent quite a bit more on reading through Poison And Gold!

Also what makes Star-Touched Stories such a great short story collection as a whole, is that it also adds more the world and story itself, while also giving enough time to develop everything so perfectly from the characters, setting, descriptions, plotting, pacing, etc.

What made Star-Touched Stories so incredibly special was spending one last book with the amazing characters like Gauri, Vikram, Aasha, the past selves of Maya & Amar! I hadn’t really thought about it until I began reading Rose And Sword, and that’s when I was just savoring each page with these characters, because looking back, Chokshi’s Star-Touched novels have just stuck with me ever since I first read them and even with the many other books I’ve read, her series has truly stayed with me! I got a bit emotional as I read through Gauri looking after Vikram as he was sick 😭✨

Star-Touched Stories is a collection of three beautifully written tales that take readers back to the world of Chokshi’s Star-Touched Series! Wrapping up the series, the stories explore the complexities of loss, love, finding ones inner strength, and so much more! Chokshi’s beautifully descriptive writing delivers on building even more into the Star-Touched Queen world as a whole and the magnificent characters we’ve come to love from the series!

Book Bytes #15

Book Bytes Banner 2018~ 24hryabookblogBook Bytes is a monthly feature I created to share news in the world of YA!

Each month, posts can contain anything from new cover/title reveals, book-to-movie news, even the latest book deals!!
I’ve now split up the news into categories, to make it easier to jump to whichever book news you’d like to read about!

If there’s any book news I missed or any you want to discuss, definitely leave a comment!

Book Bytes #15 is wrapping up all the YA Book news from August!

Adaptation News

1.Fake ID Optioned by Sony Pictures Television

According to Lamar Giles’s twitter, he hinted at his novel getting optioned as of August 7. He tweeted a picture of his 2014 YA Debut novel, Fake ID with a letter signed off by Sony Pictures TV Inc.

No other news has been announced!

2. Between Shades Of Gray Red Carpet Premiere

As of August 17, Ruta Sepetys shared on her twitter the date for the red carpet premiere of the adaptation of Between Shades Of Gray, with the movie being titled: Ashes In The Snow!

The premiere is set to be in Los Angeles on September 21 and according to her twitter, the theatrical release is set to be in 2019!

Book Deals

1. Ten Thousand Rivers by June Hur

Set to be released in 2020 with Feiwel & Friends, Hur’s YA Historical Fiction is “Set in Korea in the 1800s, where a sixteen-year-old indentured to the police bureau takes a murder investigation into her own hands, delving deep into a restless city swirling with intrigue and secrets, where honor often comes before justice ” (Announced August 23).

Cover Reveals

1.Field Notes On Love by Jennifer E. Smith

As of August 7, Smith revealed on her twitter, the cover for her upcoming YA Contemporary, Field Notes On Love!

Field Notes On Love by Jennifer E. Smith is set to be released March 5, 2019!

2.Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

The cover for Zdrok’s debut historical fantasy novel, Spectacle, had its cover revealed via Hypable on August 8!

Spectacle is a historical fantasy set in a re-imagined Paris in 1887! According to Hypable this novel follows Nathalie Baudin who’s “job is macabre, to say the least. She writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal, so each day she must line up to get a look at the newest arrivals. And she wasn’t the only one. Up to 40,000 Parisians would do so regularly.

But one day, Nathalie’s routine takes a dark turn. She has a vision of a woman being murdered — but it’s from the killer’s point of view. Soon, it becomes obvious that they have a serial killer on their hands.

Now Nathalie’s life becomes a struggle between figuring out who the killer is and not becoming a victim herself.”

Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok is set to be released February 12, 2019!

3.Symptoms Of A Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra

EW revealed the cover to Charaipotra’s upcoming YA Contemporary, Symptoms Of A Heartbreak! Her novel is “a tender YA romance set in the thick of the medical world. The book centers on 16-year-old Saira Sehga, the youngest MD in America working on the cancer ward, and traces her attempts to navigate adult challenges: getting out from under the thumb of her doting mother (who works at the same hospital), proving herself to co-workers who don’t take her seriously, and crushing on a cute boy who happens to have stage II leukemia.”

Alongside the cover reveal, was also a Q&A with Charaipotra about the story, inspiration, etc.!

Symptoms Of A Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra is set to be released May 21, 2019!

4. Wild Savage Stars by Kristina Pérez

The sequel to Pérez’s debut Sweet Black Waves titled, Wild Savage Stars had its cover reveal + Excerpt via Bustle on August 22!

Wild Savage Stars by Kristina Pérez is set to be released August 27, 2019!

5. Descendant Of The Crane Joan He

As of August 27, Hypable revealed the cover to Joan He’s 2019 debut Descendant Of The Crane!

Descendant Of The Crane by Joan HeHe’s novel centers around Princess Hesina of Yan, who “has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant and alluring investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?”

Alongside the cover reveal was an interview w/ Hypable discussing the cover and its importance to the story!

Descendant Of The Crane by Joan He is set to be released April 2, 2019!

Misc. Book News + Publisher News

1. Girls Of Paper And Fire by Natasha Ngan B&N Exclusive Edition

Announced August 4 through Natasha Ngan’s twitter, her debut novel Girls Of Paper And Fire, will be getting an exclusive Barnes & Noble edition with special content!

According to Barnes & Noble’s website it is: “specially bound with an exclusive red hardcover with a foil stamp design, as well as handwritten, behind-the-scenes notes from the author on her favorite scene from the book!

Tours

1.Broken Things by Lauren Oliver 

Announced through Hypable on August 9, was Lauren Oliver’s upcoming tour for her upcoming novel, Broken Things.

Broken Things is set to be released October 2, 2018!

2. A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Announced August 28 through Hypable, Tahereh Mafi will be going on tour for her upcoming novel, A Very Large Expanse Of Sea!

A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi is set to be released October 16, 2018!

And That’s The YA Book News For August! 😄✨📚

Thoughts on last month’s YA Book News? + Do you have a favorite piece of YA Book News from August? 📚💻📰✨ 

August 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 4

A Thousand Beginnings And Endings by Ellen Oh and Elise Chapman1.A Thousand Beginnings And Endings edited by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman

Library | Started July 28 + Finished August 2 | Rating: ★★★★☆ | A Thousand Beginnings And Endings Full Review

Overall Thoughts: This is a wonderful YA anthology that contains 15 short stories inspired by East & South Asian Folklore/Mythology! There are stories inspired by myths/folklore from Korea, the Philippines, China, India, Vietnam, & much more! Every author’s story delivers its own unique spin to their favorite tales. Within each story, the writing pulls you in! While there were some stories I enjoyed more than others, this is not an anthology to miss! While I loved so many of the stories, these were some that were definitely my favorites: Forbidden Fruit, Olivia’s Table, Land Of The Morning Calm, The Smile, Bullet Butterfly, & Daughter Of The Sun!

Interludes From Melancholy Falls Vol. 1 by Jeff Heimbuch2. Interludes From Melancholy Falls Vol. 1 by Jeff Heimbuch

Owned | Started August 3 + Finished August 6 |Rating: ★★★★☆ | Interludes From Melancholy Falls Vol. 1 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Fans of the Return Home podcast do not want to miss out on this short story collection! Filled with 16 short stories, Heimbuch expands on the world of the Return Home podcast, by centering the stories around the lesser known settings and characters! Told through different mediums, each story builds into the world or even an episode of the show! Because the stories are more character/plot-driven, there are moments when the descriptions were a bit minimal! However, this is a great addition for readers looking to learn more about the world of Return Home!

Shadow And Bone by Leigh Bardugo3.Shadow And Bone by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha Trilogy #1)

Owned | Started + Finished August 14 |Rating: ★★★★★ |Tattered Sundays feat. Shadow And Bone

Overall Thoughts: Not much to say other than I loved it even more than when I read Shadow & Bone the first time! What I loved about this re-read was how I focused more on the characters & their development! I just found myself loving the characters even more (like The Darkling, Alina, etc.) and connected to the story more on a level of characters & world-building/development than just the story as a whole. I picked up on little details I forgot the first time around that also helped me as an aspiring YA Fantasy writer! 

Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody4. Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody (The Shadow Game #1)

Library | Started August 9 + Finished August 22 | Rating:★★★☆☆ ¾ | Ace Of Shades Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Ace Of Shades is an immersive YA Fantasy that delivers such unique and different elements through its world! What I loved the most about this book was the main characters, Enne & Levi! The dual POV really built them both as characters, but also how they see the world of New Reynes. However, there were elements that made this book fall a bit flat for me: Pacing, made-up swear words, repetition of phrases, & lack of expansion on the world + some characters! Aside from that however, the way Foody crafts her stories makes it unexpected & immersive! The journeys that Enne & Levi have ahead, is what will definitely keep me invested in  book 2!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Podcasts In Publishing feat. Sadie by Courtney Summers {Literary Listens}

Book Bytes #14

Sacred Lies Mini-Series Review

YA Contemporary Books That Need Netflix Adaptations {Book Blog Discussion}

Tattered Sundays: Shadow & Bone + My Heart And Other Black Holes

Plans For September:

~ Catch up on ARCs & read more! I was a bit disappointed at the lack of ARCs I was able to get through this month, so next month I’m really planning to catch up + read/review upcoming ARCs & ones from a week ago! 💖📚📚🎉

~ Post TBR Lists! I’ve been drafting a couple TBR lists that I’ve had in the works for a while, but just haven’t had the chance to share yet! I’m definitely planning to share them & recommend some great upcoming books! 📚✨💖💕

~ I’ve also been planning another Literary Listens post & I’m really looking forward to sharing this one! 😍💕🎙✨

~If I make time for it, I definitely want to finish up my summer reading bullet journal & talk about it on the blog! ☀📝✨📚

What books did you read this month? 😍📚